Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 11, 2012

Daniels Gives Last State of State Address

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels used his last State of the State speech Tuesday night to tout his state's accomplishments over the past seven years, but he also laid out its current challenges.

The Republican Daniels spoke before a near-capacity crowd of the Indiana General Assembly, although some members of the Democratic caucus stayed away.

House Democrats are simmering over Republicans muscling through House Bill 1001, the so-called right-to-work bill that would prevent companies from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Daniels supports the bill, saying businesses are passing over Indiana in favor of right-to-work states.

"Everyone knows that, among the minority favoring the status quo, passion on this issue is strong, and I respect that. I did not come lightly, or quickly, to the stance I take now. If this proposal limited in any way the right to organize, I would not support it. But we just cannot go on missing out on the middle class jobs our state needs, just because of this one issue," Daniels said inside the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. "For the sake of those without jobs, and those young people just beginning the ascent of life's ladder, I ask you to remove this obstacle and make Indiana the 23rd state to protect the right to work."

Daniels says Indiana is a much different state than it was in 2005, when he took over from Democrat Joe Kernan.

"Then, we were broke and other states were flush," Daniels said. "Tonight, while states elsewhere twist in financial agony, Indiana has an honestly balanced budget, a strong, protective reserve in our state savings account, and the first AAA credit rating in state history, one of just a handful left in America. Our credit is better - imagine this - than that of the federal government."

Among other things, Daniels touted Indiana property tax rates, which he says are the lowest in the nation.

"We have worked relentlessly to move Indiana up the list of great places to do business," Daniels said. "We have made steady progress, coming from nowhere to the top tier in every ranking: No. 6 according to the nation's site selectors, No. 6 according to CEO Magazine, No. 5 according to real estate decision makers. ...

"Here's another encouraging sign: More people are moving into Indiana than moving out. Our population is growing at the fastest rate from Iowa to Maine."

But Daniels joked on how, just as Indiana's economic picture was improving, the nation's was not.

"We became the prettiest girl in school the year they called off the prom," he said.

Daniels says Indiana is now seen as a leader in business and education reforms, increased public education spending and improved environmental track record.

"We are now, indisputably, seen as a leader," Daniels said.

Although Daniels touted Indiana's $1.2 billion investment in road and bridge construction, he made no mention of projects in Northwest Indiana or plans to rebuild the Cline Avenue bridge, which runs through East Chicago and Hammond. Area leaders have made the bridge's return a priority, but the state's latest proposal is to build a toll-road, which would likely mean expending fewer state dollars.

The governor mentioned a need for Hoosiers to continue donating to a fund for victims of last summer's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair.

But Daniels' comments about and support for right-to-work legislation captured the most attention and disdain from the hundreds of pro-union workers at the Statehouse Tuesday evening. And, although House Democratic leader Patrick Bauer of South Bend attended the governor's speech, many Democrats did not.

State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) said she did not attend because she felt Republicans denied the public's right to voice opinions on the right-to-work bill. Democratic leaders have asked the Republican leadership to hold public hearings on the hot-button issue, but those leaders pressed on. Just hours before Daniels' address, a majority on the House's labor committee voted to send the bill to the full House, which could vote on the measure by Friday.

"I really decided not to go because I was incensed by the way the public was not given a voice," Reardon said. "They (committee members) gave six minutes to a policy that will have long-reaching effects on the state of Indiana. They (Republicans) chose to ignore their voices."

State Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) said he was most proud of protesters who attended Daniels' address but spoke loudly against right-to-work.

"The State of the State was not the story tonight. The story was the thousands of citizens, including whole families, who filled the statehouse who came to protest this so called right-to-work which will drive down wages," Pelath said. "The sound of Democracy is beautiful music."

Indiana State Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary), who did attend the governor's address, said he thought the speech was confusing in that the governor touted the state's sound fiscal policy but then talked about how badly the state needs right-to-work in order to attract business.

"It was kind of a mixed message," Brown said.

Brown does support Daniels' call for a statewide smoking ban, which Daniels mentioned in a list of lingering legislative items on his remaining agenda. Brown has pushed for such a ban for years but met stiff resistance from business groups, including casino interests, which argued Indiana would lose tourism dollars to states that did not restrict smoking.

Bauer, meanwhile, took fault with Daniels' descriptions of Indiana as a magnet for new jobs and expanding personal incomes. Bauer pointed to the state's current 9 percent unemployment rate, compared to the 5.5 percent jobless rate when Daniels took office.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) plans to reconvene the House at 12:30 Central time Wednesday, but it's unknown if Democrats will return.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

UI Deputy Chief Christensen to Serve as Interim Chief

When University of Illinois Police Chief Barbara O'Connor leaves her job in Urbana next month, someone familiar with the interim title will take over.

Deputy Police Chief and Assistant Director of Public Safety Jeff Christensen was interim chief from 2007 to 2009. He's not expected to serve more than a few months at the top job this time, but Christensen says that doesn't mean the department will rest on its laurels.

"We'll continue to aggessively follow the programs we've been looking at as well as the initiatives," he said. "We're going to be afraid to implement any new initiatives, too. Being in this role before, you need to keep moving forward. Maybe there is some treading water being the interim, but we've got group of people and great support from the campus and community. We'll continue to march forward."

For example, Christensen says there are plans in place to expand the number of outdoor security cameras. He's been with the department since 1985. O'Connor announced last month that she was returning near her roots. She leaves next month to become the next police chief at the University of Connecticut.

Christensen will serve as acting director until March 3rd, when he will become interim director with O'Connor's official departure.

U of I Associate Chancellor Mike DeLorenzo says the search for a new permanent chief and public safety director will be led by a consulting group, and should be completed by this spring.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

Illinois Upsets No. 5 Ohio State; 43 Points for Paul

Brandon Paul scored a career-high 43 points including, a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play, to help Illinois upset No. 5 Ohio State 79-74 on Tuesday night.

The Illini (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) led 71-70 when Paul sank his 3-pointer with 43 seconds to play. He followed that up with four free throws that put the game out of reach.

Ohio State (15-3, 3-2) led 39-34 at halftime and was up 64-61 with just over five minutes to play.

Paul's 43 points was the third-highest scoring performance in Illini history. Meyers Leonard added 14 for Illinois.

Deshaun Thomas scored 23 points and Jared Sullinger added 21 for Ohio State.

Categories: Education, Sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

Drugmaker Plans 234 Terre Haute Jobs by 2016

A California-based pharmaceutical company says it expects to hire 234 people by 2016 at a new operation on the site of a former Pfizer Inc. drug plant near Terre Haute.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star and WTHI-TV report officials with California-based NantWorks LLC told the Vigo County Department of Redevelopment on Tuesday that they plan to invest $120 million at the site in a southern Vigo County industrial park.

Pfizer employed more than 800 workers there before shuttering its operations in 2008.

NantWorks officials say they expect the new plant to begin production of various drugs by 2015. It says the scientists, chemists and engineers employed by the plant will earn an average annual salary of about $51,000.

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

President Obama Touches Down in Chicago to Raise Cash

President Barack Obama flies into Chicago Wednesday for a quick fundraising trip. He's relied often on his hometown for financial support as the 2012 election ramps up.

The president last raised money in Chicago in August, and before then in April. One of Obama's former chiefs of staff is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who on Tuesday said re-election fundraising will be a 'national' responsibility.

"I know this - the president can rely on his friends and deep supporters in the city of Chicago to play its role in that effort," Emanuel said.

On Wednesday afternoon, President Obama will attend a large low-dollar fundraiser at the UIC Forum on Chicago's Near West Side. He will then hit two high-price fundraisers, with ticket prices topping out at $35,800 per couple.

A statement from the head of Illinois' Republican Party, Pat Brady, accused the president of using Chicago as a "piggybank for his reelect" at a time when out-of-work "Americans struggle.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

Investigation Continues into Anonymous U of I Messages

University of Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy says it could be a matter of days before the U of I finishes investigating a series of anonymous emails sent to a faculty advisory group about an enrollment management plan.

Those messages have been traced back to the computer of Lisa Troyer, who stepped down last week as university President Michael Hogan's chief of staff. Hardy said the investigation has looked at whether hacking was involved.

"I don't know that there's been evidence that would confirm that there had been some kind of hacking or breech of IT security," Hardy said.

Hardy said findings from the investigation will be shared with the U of I's Board of Trustees.

Board Member Karen Hasara urges everyone to remain patient as they wait on the results of the review, which she hopes will released by time the Trustees meet in Chicago next week.

Categories: Education

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

Former Urbana Mayor Hiram Paley Dies

Friends of Hiram Paley are remembering the former Urbana mayor and U of I mathematics professor as a champion of progressive causes. Paley died Monday in Urbana at the age of 78.

Paley, served as Urbana mayor for one term, from 1973 to '77, after serving two terms as alderman. Among the supporters working on his campaign was Urbana's current mayor, Laurel Prussing. Paley would later endorse Prussing in her bid for mayor in 2005. Prussing says one of Paley's accomplishments as mayor was passage of a pioneering ordinance restricting smoking in restaurants.

"Urbana had an ordinance where there had to be a non-smoking section in a restaurant," Prussing said. "Now, the whole state is non-smoking in restaurants. So it's interesting to see how Urbana so often took the lead on a number of issues."

Former Urbana alderwoman Esther Patt credits Paley for helping to pass a wide-ranging anti-discrimination ordinance in Urbana at a time when it was rare for cities to have such things.

Cliff Singer, an Urbana alderman in the 1990s, said he was a teen-age math major when he first met Paley, who supervised him in an individual study program. He said Paley's participation in the program was an example of his willingness to take on extra work to help his students. Singer, who served on the Urbana City Council in the 1990s, said Paley converted the city's financial system over to modern financial practices. When he joined the council, Singer said he helped pass a fiscal policy resolution which further formalized such practices.

"But (Paley) was the one who laid the foundation for Urbana surviving various economic ups and downs much better than many other cities of its size," Singer said.

Paley remained active in local Democratic politics after leaving city government, and was also active in various progressive causes, including the American Civil Liberties Union and pro-choice issues. Patt said one of her fondest memories was Paley was his willingness to criticize the pro-life views of Olney Democrat Terry Bruce, an area congressman from 1985 to '93.

"That was a very important issue to Hiram, and he was not going to give anyone a pass just because they were a Democrat," Patt said.

Paley, a native of Rochester, New York, is survived by his wife Jean, a sister, three children and four grandchildren. Paley's daughter, Nina Paley, is a cartoonist and animator known for her feature film "Sita Sings the Blues."

Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home in Champaign, which is handling arrangements for Hiram Paley said a funeral service are expected to be scheduled later this year.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

Illinois Gets $7.7 Million in Federal Storm Repair Aid

Illinois is getting more than $7.7 million to help cover the costs of repairing roads and bridges damaged by last year's flooding and windstorms.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin announced Monday that the money will be coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation's emergency-relief funds.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will dole out more than $4.7 million to help northwest Illinois communities affected last July by strong wind and rains that totaled more than 12 inches. That's meant to defray costs of repairing drainage and roadway washouts, in addition to slope failures.

Southern Illinois communities affected by widespread heavy rain and flooding last spring largely along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers will get roughly $3 million.

(AP Photo/Jim Suhr)

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 10, 2012

Indiana House Panel Advances Right-to-Work Bill

A panel of Indiana lawmakers used a window of opportunity Tuesday after Democrats ended a three-day boycott to send divisive right-to-work legislation to the full House of Representatives.

The committee voted 8-5 along party lines to advance a ban on contracts that require workers to pay union fees for representation. Republican Chairman Douglas Gutwein and Democratic Rep. David Niezgodski periodically shouted each other down as Democrats attempted to introduce a handful changes to the bill. Other Republicans on the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee remained largely quiet through the testy voting session.

Indiana could become the first state in more than a decade to approve right-to-work legislation. National advocates have tried without success to push the measure in New Hampshire and other states following a wave of Statehouse victories by Republicans in 2010.

The right-to-work measure is the first bill to be voted on by a House panel this session and could advance to the Senate as early as Friday if Democrats stick around long enough. The boycott by House Democrats last week stalled work on the measure. And Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer said when his caucus returned to the House chamber Monday that they may boycott again to block the bill.

Union protesters who packed the House chamber for the vote booed at Republicans and cheered for Democrats.

Gutwein said Tuesday that a batch of Democratic amendments to the bill were drafted too late to be considered during the voting session.

"What are you afraid of?" asked Rep. Craig Fry, D-Mishawaka. "You have plenty of votes to pass this bill."

Gutwein countered Democrats, saying that opponents had plenty of time to speak out last week during a five-hour hearing on the measure.

"They're ruled out of order and that's it," he said of the amendments.

Categories: Government, Politics

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